It was two weeks ago, but the fear I had after almost winning a trip is still with me. I may have gotten myself caught in a bidding war for a trip that I actually didn’t want to win. The event was at Sugarloaf and a cancer survivor had just shared his story which had me a little too ready to play. I decided to jump into the bidding on the first live auction item a it was starting slow. So I felt the need to raise my paddle about a half dozen times…. to the point where we were “going twice” and I was about lose my lunch. Fortunately, the guy at the table over outbid me and Travis held my arm down to save me from pushing it further. It really was such a BK move, I guess I learned from the best. After hitting a few more glasses of wine I stuck my paddle up for a few more items before Travis took it away from me. I made it out of the live auction without any items to me name but I did walk away with a few silent auction items thotho!
The Sugarloaf Charity Summit is and will always be my favorite silent/live auction. It’s predecessor, The Sugarloaf Jimmy Fund Celebrity Cup was an event my family participated in every year. It was the reason I first heard the word “cancer” and I had never seen my parents so motivated to support a cause. Each year, to my mom’s dismay, my Dad would play the same “bidding up” game in the silent and live auctions. A warning to all you future parents….do NOT, let me repeat, do NOT let your kids know what your bidding number is. I have a Nomar Garciaparra Rookie year game-worn signed jersey to prove it. My Dad never bid on the item yet we walked away with it….you get where this is going.
The event is also at the mountain I love and my home away from home. It’s still held in the King Pine Room, a room where my mom cursed on stage at my father, I believe in 1999 or 2000 in front of a room of 600+. Back then, Saab used to donate a car as the main raffle item and the tickets usually ran fairly pricy, I want to say $100. Earlier in the dinner, my mom asked my Dad if he had bought tickets and he said that he had skipped it this year. Later on, when they pull the winning ticket and announce my Mom’s name, she was beside herself laughing. After what was probably an extra glass of Chardonnay or two (BAC levels have always been high in the valley), she got on stage to accept the key and grabbed the microphone. She led with “You son of a bitch, you lied to me” and that was enough for them to yank the mic away and get the crowd laughing.
In 2011, when the organizers of the event and the Sugarloaf community learned about my Dad’s diagnosis, he was the immediate choice to fill the “survivor speaker” role at the upcoming January auction. Unfortunately, he had some serious kidney issues that came up and required hospitalization in Boston. They sent him a note and said he was locked in for the following year. For those of you who know the story, the BK did not make it to the following January and I was afforded the honor of speaking in his place. I shared some of his words from a previous speaking engagement and put his ski boots on the podium. Personally, it was a pretty big moment for me and I believe Trav and Lex as we were in the initial stages of coping. The warmth of the other Sugarloafers and the mountain made that night so special.
This event now splits its’ proceeds between the Maine Cancer Foundation and the local women’s breast care center. As a proud Mainer, I do at times struggle with the idea that my fundraising efforts are predominatly to benefit DFCI in Boston. After all, it was Dr. Boyd at Maine Med who saved my father upon his admission when the nurses never thought he would make it out of the ICU. It was the nurses who first helped me deal with his diagnosis, likely many of the same nurses who were present when my mom was also treated at MMC. Once Dr. Boyd got my Dad’s leukemia under control, she said his case was severe enough that he needed to head to “the Dana” because it was their trials and studies that are leading the way. I remember how she said the protocols she followed were tested and implemented by their doctors and doctors from the other leaders like MD Anderson, Sloan Kittering, Fred Hutchinson and Mayo Clinic. This was prior to me spending a few hundred days down in the Longwood Med Area which confirmed everything she said and more.
So while the search for a cure is on and the finish line is in the distance, I’ll be focused on raising for Dana. But you can count on me raising my paddle in the King Pine Room every year, thinking of the days with Bri and Deb.
Yes, my first documented Jimmy Fund Fundraising efforts were in 1996. I hit the $500 threshold and was given a pair of K2 skis which were about 40 cm too long for me. Little did I know it would be my first of many events supporting DFCI.